Monday, July 12, 2010

Billy Joe Shaver: Freedom’s Child (2003)

(As published in the Times of Acadiana ... )

Billy Joe Shaver
Freedom’s Child

Recently, after warning them that they were about to hear “real country,” I played this album for a mini-van full of quiz-bowl-bound high-school freshman. Two songs in, one remarked that this was not in fact real country, and would I please play Tim McGraw’s Greatest Hits? To be fair, the subject of the mellow first cut--the elusiveness of intimacy over even the longest of hauls--is hardly kid stuff. But had my student waited for “That’s What She Said Last Night” and “Déja Blues,” he would’ve been rewarded with bawdy puns and rowdy choruses--solid foils, in other words, for the detailed, nostalgic reminiscences that the rest of this lovingly executed, gospel-tinged, Triple-A-radio-friendly music comprises. Meanwhile, no one who caught Shaver with Kinky Friedman last fall will be surprised to learn that Shaver-the-singer remains equal to the challenges posed by Shaver-the-writer these days. Rating: Four freedom’s fathers out of five.

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